The taste of a particular Scotch whisky is a jealously guarded thing, with the master distiller/blender making the real decisions at most distilleries.
At Ballantine's, which is marking its 180th anniversary this year, a joint effort between Sandy Hyslop, the brand's fifth master blender, and Graeme McDowell (right), winner of the inaugural Ballantine’s Championship golf tournament last year. The blend was created at Ballantine’s production site in Dumbarton, Scotland.
The unique 35-year-old Scotch is the result of the first time in company history anyone outside the company’s expert team has collaborated with a master blender.
If you want to latch on to a bottle of the historic whisky, called Ballantine's Championship Blend, you may have to pull some strings. Only 15 bottles will be made due to the scarcity of the whiskies contained in the blend. One person assured of receiving a bottle is whoever wins this year's Ballantine’s Championship which will taker place next month in Korea.
"This is a first not only for Ballantine’s but across the entire Chivas Brothers portfolio," Hyslop said. "It is one of the rarest blends I’ve ever created and contains some of the oldest samples from our inventory of over six million casks of ageing whisky. For example, we included two very old grain whiskies from Strathclyde and Dumbarton, the latter distillery no longer in production. Although the age stated on the bottle is 35 years, there are older whiskies contained in the blend."
Following a private master class, Hyslop drew on his expertise and cherished stocks to select the finest and rarest whiskies for McDowell to sample. McDowell then created a unique blend under Hyslop’s guidance that reflected his individual taste and strong preferences for sweet, lighter flavors.
The 2009 Ballantine’s Championship will have a field of 156 players. McDowell, of Northern Ireland, will be back to defend his title against the likes of former Masters champion Fred Couples and top-notch golfers Ernie Els and Colin Montgomerie.
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